Common Name: Mock Orange, Orange Jessamine
Murraya is one of the most widely grown hedge or screening plants in tropical to warm temperate climates. It has many highly desirable features (rapidly growing, dense foliage, normally few significant health problems).
For many people the strong, sweet scent of Murraya flowers are also a big bonus with this plant; however, for others, this strong perfume can literally cause a headache!
Appearance: Shrubs or trees
Flowers: Large, solitary, or in axils, or in terminal clusters. Mainly white in colour. Some may bloom several times a year. Scented.
Features: Scented foliage. Good hedging plants. Long lived.
Requirements: Prefer rich, moist, slightly acid soils. Prefers tropical conditions, but is hardy and adaptable. Full sun preferred, but will succeed in part shade.
Culture: Keep soil moist in active growing seasons, prune as required to keep shape. Propagate by seed or cuttings. Transplants easily.
Pest & Disease: Scale, leaf minor and sooty mould can be a problem - use white oil.
Species & Varieties:
4 species, including:
M. Koenigii (Curry Leaf Tree) -A small tree with white flowers and strongly scented leaves, which are used as an additive in Indian curries.
M. paniculata (syn M. exotica) -A fast growing evergreen shrub to 3.5m, with white fragrant flowers. Red ovoid fruit. Glossy oval leaflets 7cm long.
M. paniculata var. ovatifoliolata (Native Murraya) -A small shrub ranging from 1m to a small tree to 5m with scented white flowers followed by orange-red egg-shaped berries in late autumn. Leaflets increase in size away from the stem.
Think Carefully about the Strong Scent
The modern world has seen a dramatic increase in problems with allergies; and sinus problems; often triggered by strong perfumes such as Murraya. In some societies, it is conceivable that 50% of the population may suffer problems associated with strong scents; and along with Jasmine, Honeysuckle and Gardenia; the Murraya is one of the most commonly offending plants.Part of the problem may be that these plants have been grown simply "too much" creating an excessive concentration of their allergens in the air when they flower.
You should think carefully about where and how much you grow a Murraya. Consider how close it might be to other people who could suffer an allergic reaction.
If a Murraya hedge is pruned at least weekly, the flower concentration might not build up as much, but if it is pruned infrequently, it may produce a lot more flowers.
If a Murraya is growing in a very windy area (eg. on the coast), you may find pollen is dispersed more; but if grown in a warm enclosed space (eg. a courtyard), the scent can become overpowering.
There are other alternatives to the Murraya, which don't have the same allergen issues. Two possibilities might be Plumbago or Duranta. There are of course, hundreds of other options equally as good.
The secret to having a garden that both looks good, functions well and is free of problems such as allergens, is to know your plants and choose the best ones for the situation at hand. It may take time to learn about plants properly, but there's no escaping the fact that this is the only way to get the best choices, and avoid long term problems in your garden.
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